Using His Knitting Techniques, He Made ToastyBrain
December 8, 2011
by Monica Soto
A clever name for a unique brand, ToastyBrain offers high-quality, hand-knitted stocking caps. These hats provide warmth, of course, but each one also has had hours of heart and soul put into it by the hatmaker, who goes only by the nickname Sponge.
The reason this mysterious knitter has chosen to remain anonymous is that he is not out to sell himself. The hats speak for themselves, Sponge says.
“I am challenging my knitting to stand on its own without associating my own name with the ToastyBrain brand,” he says, adding: “I hope to see my knitting in the hands of persons truly interested in my designs rather than people I know wanting to support me in my venture.”
Perhaps the reason Sponge has the dedication to knit a single hat for so many hours is that he is a hat person himself. He keeps a collection of hats for personal use. “I have a handful of manufactured hats, a few handmade by others for me and over a dozen that I have made for myself,” he says.
Originally from Montana, Sponge has lived in the Kansas City area for almost 15 of his 33 years. Although he only began focusing on knitting hats in 2010, he learned how to knit at the turn of the century while attending the Kansas City Art Institute.
“I learned the basics of knit, purl, casting on and off from a short class during my sophomore year,” he says. However, “It wasn’t until a few years after leaving school that I focused on hand-knitting as I gave up the other disciplines crowded into the fiber department.”
He is mostly self-taught in his techniques, but, he says: “To be fair, from time to time I have gotten invaluable tips from the gals at The Studio,” a needlepoint supply shop located at the Plaza.
Sponge’s knitting technique is essentially spontaneous. He doesn’t use pre-determined patterns.
He says, “I sit down to knit and allow the hat to come together as I go. It’s all exploration.”
Sponge often combines cable knitting and Fair Isle knitting. He says, “Fair Isle is a technique of using two or more yarns in a single row, typically knit in the round. Cable knitting involves juxtaposing stitches within a row. Each of these techniques makes for dense knitting. When you combine them, it makes a very thick fabric, as there are layers of yarn overlapping each other on the inside of the hat, making a very toasty environment for the brain.” It’s in the name!
Sponge sells his hats for $75. Given the cost of materials and the 8-12 hours of knitting it takes him to complete each hat, these high-quality creations are a steal. However, he says, “Several people comment or criticize pricing. I waver between explaining handmade pricing and brusquely recommending they continue wearing manufactured goods.”
Purchasing one of these hats is like buying one-of-a-kind wearable art that is also comfortable and efficient in keeping you warm. If you get one, you will thank your hat in the next Snowpocalypse.
For more information, go to www.toastybrain.com.